It’s finally here. My favorite day of the UVM women’s hockey season. Pack the Gut.
I don’t think even Danielle Rancourt thought Pack the Gut would be this consistently big when she first pitched it in 2013 after doing volunteer work for Meals on Wheels. But here we are, at Pack the Gut V, coming off a year in which we broke our own attendance record.
And it’s a huge chance to grow the program and showcase the quality of UVM women’s hockey. If we match last season’s 2,136, and even 10% of the attendees grow interested in the program and start to follow them and attend games, that’s over 200 new fans of UVM women’s hockey.
And it’s not like these are dead-rubber games; these are easily the two biggest games of the season, especially after falling to Merrimack on Sunday. UVM and UConn are tied for 7th in the standings on 15 points with the Huskies having a game in hand, and Merrimack is lurking just behind with 14 and two games next weekend in Storrs. The Cats do still have a chance at 6th as BU is on 17 points and UVM has a game in hand, but now UVM needs to win their game in hand and outdo BU’s final two conference results as the Terriers hold the tiebreaker. My advice to the team is what Plumer said over the Montreal trip: focus on yourselves. The rest will take care of itself. Just do what you need to do: win.
And UConn comes into this series on a four-game winning streak, including a sweep of Maine and an OT win over Providence. Annie Belanger has had another terrific season in goal with a .930 SV%, while freshman Natalie Snodgrass has been fire with 30 points in her first season in the Nutmeg State.
Three Things to Look Out For
- Emotional Energy. Gotta give a shoutout to the athletic department here. Scheduling Pack the Gut, Alumnae Weekend, and Senior Day on the same weekend is pretty rad. Expect the Cats to feed off the home crowd’s energy on Friday and the sheer emotion of Senior Day on Saturday. (Speaking of Senior Day: our annual Tribute to the Seniors will be up after the game on Friday.)
- Potential for Free Hockey. UConn has played 30 games so far this year. 12 of them have gone to OT. (UConn is 3-1-8 in OT games.) OT and the already high stakes of these games will really crank up the heat. These will be playoff-intensity games and the margins are slim.
- Kill Your Penalties. UVM’s special teams struggled big time against Merrimack, but their PK is going to have to be much better against UConn’s PP which clocks in at over 20%, top-10 amongst D1 teams.
Games are Friday at 7 and Saturday at 4 at Gutterson and on CatamounTV. But you should be at Gutterson Friday and help Pack the Gut and give the team a boost.
BIG BIG BIG games. Let’s grab some W’s.
Big Cats Gotta Eat.